How to Make Your Own Hand Sanitizer

FDA warns about hand sanitizer packaged to look like food or drinks - CNN

What ingredients do you need?

Making your own hand sanitizer is easy to do and only requires a few ingredients:

  • isopropyl or rubbing alcohol (99 percent alcohol volume)
  • aloe vera gel
  • an essential oil, such as tea tree oil or lavender oil, or you can use lemon juice instead

The key to making an effective, germ-busting hand sanitizer is to stick to a 2:1 proportion of alcohol to aloe vera. This keeps the alcohol content around 60 percent. This is the minimum amount needed to kill most germs, according to the CDCTrusted Source.

How do you make your own hand sanitizer?

Jagdish Khubchandani, PhD, associate professor of health science at Ball State University, shared this hand sanitizing formula.

His hand sanitizer formula combines:

  • 2 parts isopropyl alcohol or ethanol (91–99 percent alcohol)
  • 1 part aloe vera gel
  • a few drops of clove, eucalyptus, peppermint, or other essential oil

If you’re making hand sanitizer at home, Khubchandani says to adhere to these tips:

  • Make the hand sanitizer in a clean space. Wipe down countertops with a diluted bleach solution beforehand.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before making the hand sanitizer.
  • To mix, use a clean spoon and whisk. Wash these items thoroughly before using them.
  • Make sure the alcohol used for the hand sanitizer is not diluted.
  • Mix all the ingredients thoroughly until they’re well blended.
  • Don’t touch the mixture with your hands until it’s ready for use.

For a larger batch of hand sanitizer, the World Health Organization (WHO)Trusted Source has a formula for a hand sanitizer that uses:

  • isopropyl alcohol or ethanol
  • hydrogen peroxide
  • glycerol
  • sterile distilled or boiled cold water

Is it safe?

DIY hand sanitizer recipes are all over the internet these days — but are they safe?

These recipes, including the ones above, are intended for use by professionals with both the expertise and resources to safely make homemade hand sanitizers.

Homemade hand sanitizer is only recommended in extreme situations when you’re unable to wash your hands for the foreseeable future.

Improper ingredients or proportions can lead to:

  • lack of efficacy, meaning that the sanitizer may not effectively eliminate risk of exposure to some or all microbes
  • skin irritation, injury, or burns
  • exposure to hazardous chemicals via inhalation

Homemade hand sanitizer is also not recommended for children. Children may be more prone to improper hand sanitizer usage, which could lead to greater risk of injury.

How to use hand sanitizer

Two things to be aware of when using hand sanitizer:

  • You need to rub it into your skin until your hands are dry.
  • If your hands are greasy or dirty, you should wash them first with soap and water.

With that in mind, here are some tips for using hand sanitizer effectively.

  1. Spray or apply the sanitizer to the palm of one hand.
  2. Thoroughly rub your hands together. Make sure you cover the entire surface of your hands and all your fingers.
  3. Continue rubbing for 30 to 60 seconds or until your hands are dry. It can take at least 60 seconds, and sometimes longer, for hand sanitizer to kill most germs.

What germs can hand sanitizer kill?

According to the CDCTrusted Source, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that meets the alcohol volume requirement can quickly reduce the number of microbes on your hands.

It can also help destroy a wide range of disease-causing agents or pathogens on your hands, including the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.

However, even the best alcohol-based hand sanitizers have limitations and don’t eliminate all types of germs.

According to the CDC, hand sanitizers won’t get rid of potentially harmful chemicals. It’s also not effective at killing the following germs:

  • norovirus
  • Cryptosporidium, which causes cryptosporidiosis
  • Clostridium difficile, also known as C. diff

Also, a hand sanitizer may not work well if your hands are visibly dirty or greasy. This may happen after working with food, doing yard work, gardening, or playing a sport.

If your hands look dirty or slimy, opt for handwashing instead of a hand sanitizer.

Handwashing vs. hand sanitizer

Knowing when it’s best to wash your hands, and when hand sanitizers can be helpful, is key to protecting yourself from the new coronavirus as well as other illnesses, like the common cold and seasonal flu.

While both serve a purpose, washing your hands with soap and water should always be a priority, according to the CDC. Only use hand sanitizer if soap and water isn’t available in a given situation.

It’s also important to always wash your hands:

  • after going to the bathroom
  • after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • before eating
  • after touching surfaces that could be contaminated

The CDC lists specific instructionsTrusted Source on the most effective way to wash your hands. They recommend the following steps:

  1. Always use clean, running water. (It can be warm or cold.)
  2. Wet your hands first, then turn the water off, and lather your hands with soap.
  3. Rub your hands together with the soap for at least 20 seconds. Make sure to scrub the back of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
  4. Turn the water on and rinse your hands. Use a clean towel or air dry.

The bottom line

Hand sanitizer is a handy on-the-go way to help prevent the spread of germs when soap and water isn’t available. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can help keep you safe and reduce the spread of the new coronavirus.

If you’re having a hard time finding hand sanitizer at your local stores and handwashing isn’t available, you can take steps to make your own. You only need a few ingredients, such as rubbing alcohol, aloe vera gel, and an essential oil or lemon juice.

Although hand sanitizers can be an effective way of getting rid of germs, health authorities still recommend handwashing whenever possible to keep your hands free of disease-causing viruses and other germs.

Homemade hand sanitizers may present health risks


  • Product: Homemade hand sanitizer products and recipes.
  • Issue: Health Canada is warning Canadians about the potential health risks of making and using homemade hand sanitizers to help limit the spread of COVID-19.
  • What to do: Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If this is not possible, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, with at least 60% alcohol, which has been approved by Health Canada.

OTTAWA – Health Canada is warning Canadians about the potential health risks of making and using homemade hand sanitizers, as homemade recipes and products are becoming increasingly common online.

If you have made or used homemade hand sanitizer products, stop using them as the concentration of alcohol in many of these recipes may not be high enough to kill the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Homemade formulas may also present other health risks, such as skin irritation, increased sensitivity or allergies.

Health Canada does not recommend making your own hand sanitizer, no matter what the recipe is. Even a reputable formula, such as the one recommended by the World Health Organization, it is not appropriate to make the product at home. That recipe is intended for use by licensed producers, which manufacture it in a controlled environment so the final concentration of ingredients is accurate.

One of the best ways to prevent the spread of infection is to wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. When that is not an option, use effective Health Canada-approved hand sanitizer that has an alcohol concentration of at least 60%. For other prevention tips, consult the Government of Canada’s About Coronavirus factsheet.

Health Canada recommends using only hand sanitizers that have been authorized for sale in Canada. Product labels for authorized hand sanitizers will have either a Natural Product Number (NPN) or Drug Identification Number (DIN). Some breweries, wineries and distilleries are beginning to market hand sanitizer products to help limit the spread of COVID-19. These products will also display a DIN or NPN if they are authorized by Health Canada.

Health Canada has published a list of authorized hand sanitizers, which is updated daily, Monday to Friday. 

Hand sanitizer products should not be ingested and should always be kept out of reach of children. As with all health products, Health Canada recommends that people always follow the directions on the product label.

The COVID-19 pandemic is creating an unprecedented demand for certain health products. Health Canada is working to provide Canadians with greater access to health products that would help limit the spread of COVID-19, including hand sanitizers. An Expedited Access Process is in place for companies to seek authorization from Health Canada to manufacture and sell alcohol-based hand sanitizers. For more information, please contact the Natural and Non-prescription Health Products Directorate at

Health Canada is also facilitating access to imported products that may not fully meet current regulatory requirements (e.g., some products may not be labelled in both official languages), but are still safe and effective, as an interim measure. A list of products permitted to be sold in Canada under this interim measure can be found here.

What you should do

  • Limit the spread of COVID-19 by washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If this is not possible, use a hand sanitizer, with at least 60% alcohol, that has been approved by Health Canada.
  • If you have made or used homemade hand sanitizer products, stop using them.
  • Check whether a product and its claims have been authorized for sale by Health Canada by searching the List of Hand Sanitizers Authorized by Health Canada. Authorized hand sanitizers have an eight-digit Drug Identification Number (DIN), or Natural Product Number (NPN).

More information about buying health products safely is available on Health Canada’s website.

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